Former Topeka police officers testify on Day 2 of Dana Chandler retrial Monday in Topeka

The day’s first witness was Jeff Bailey, who said he was acquainted with Chandler through his business dealings in Denver.
Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 11:20 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Day two of the Dana Chandler retrial got underway Monday morning in the Shawnee County Courthouse with three former Topeka police officers taking the witness stand.

The day’s first witness was Jeff Bailey, a real estate developer from Colorado who said he was acquainted with Chandler through his business dealings in Denver.

Bailey said Chandler got in touch with him in early August 2002 when she informed him she was seeking to “raise” $50,000 for a lawyer, as she was concerned she could be implicated in the murders in July 2002 of her ex-husband Mike Sisco and his fiancé Karen Harkness at a west Topeka residence.

“She told me that she needed $50,000, which was a little surprising,” Bailey testified. " I asked her why, of course, and she said she was accused of the murder of Mike and I believe she said his lady-friend.”

Bailey testified that he didn’t give Chandler any money.

Bailey also said Chandler discussed that she was camping in the Colorado mountains the weekend of Saturday July 6, 2002, and Sunday, July 7, 2002, when Sisco and Harkness were slain in Topeka.

Bailey said Chandler told him she was “telling the truth” to him regarding her whereabouts the weekend of July 6 and 7, 2002, but that she had previously given Topeka police a different version because she didn’t think they would believe her actual account.

Bailey was questioned by the state’s prosecutor, Charles Kitt, chief of staff for the Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office, and by Tom Bath, Chandler’s defense lawyer.

Also called to the witness stand Monday morning were William White and Shane Hilton, both of whom formerly worked with the Topeka Police Department and were officers at the time Sisco and Harkness were murdered.

Both White and Hilton testified that they responded to the crime scene on the afternoon of July 7, 2022, after family members found Sisco and Harkness had been shot to death.

After a break in the proceedings mid-morning Monday, John Sanders, a former officer who worked with the Topeka Police Department’s Crime Scene Investigation Unit, was called to the witness stand.

Bailey said the crime scene unit primarily will “swab for DNA, dust for fingerprints, maybe use an alternate light source. In this particular case, we did a vacuuming.”

He said crime scene unit officers make a point not to rush as they work efficiently.

“Attention to detail is critical,” Sanders said when asked about gathering evidence at a crime scene, “so we try to take our time but yet we’re not going to drag it out extensively.”

Sanders said he took video and still photos of the crime scene. A video that Sanders shot was played during the proceedings Monday morning and showed the scene at 2231 S.W. Westport Square, where the crimes occurred.

Opening arguments for the retrial were held Friday afternoon.

The trial is expected to last up to three weeks.

Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Rios is presiding over the trial.

Chandler was arrested and charged with the murders of Sisco and Harkness in 2011, and was convicted in 2012.

However, in 2018, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the conviction, citing misconduct by former prosecutor Jacqie Spradling, who has since been disbarred.

Chandler’s first trial attracted national media coverage, including on the CBS program “48 Hours.”

Chandler’s ongoing retrial also is attracting national media coverage.

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